Why I Don’t Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Why I Don't Buy Girl Scout Cookies

Apparently today is National Girl Scout Cookie Day. I’m not quite sure who got to decide that (perhaps the Girl Scouts?), but it’s a pretty slick marketing ploy. Social media is all abuzz, parents are delivering cookies to coworkers, and you can even find Girls wearing cookie costumes, shilling for über-processed junk-food.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a fan of the Girl Scouts, and have tremendous respect for their organization. But I won’t buy their cookies.

I am an Eagle Scout, so I fully understand the positive impact a youth program like the Girl Scouts has on kids’ lives. And I’ll admit, as Boy Scouts we were always jealous that the Girl Scouts had cookies as their fundraising tool. We sold popcorn, which always just felt kind of lame and certainly couldn’t compete. (Unless there’s a National Boy Scout Popcorn Day that I’m not aware of?)

A couple of weeks ago, two very cute Girl Scouts rang our doorbell, wanting to sell us cookies. Matty and I gave them a donation instead of buying a box. My gripe about the cookies isn’t that they’re cookies – we can all enjoy a sweet treat every so often (though please don’t use the word “moderation”), and I’ve been known to enjoy my fair share of Thin Mints right out of the freezer.

Girl Scout Cookies Ingredients List

So why won’t I buy Girl Scout Cookies anymore? Put simply, they violate all three of my rules!

They’re all made with refined flour.

Most of them contain high fructose corn syrup.

And almost all of the flavors contain partially hydrogenated oils. That means they have trans fats – even though their marketing prominently claims “Our cookies have zero grams trans fat per serving.”  They can do this because of the trans fat loophole in the labeling laws.  Artificially created trans fats have no legitimate place in our food supply; there’s no safe intake level of them, and it’s definitely possible for these cookies to be made without them. Other manufacturers do it, so why can’t the Girl Scouts?

Most of the cookies also contain “natural” and artificial flavors. Both natural and artificial flavors have become a big pet peeve of mine, since they’re found in nearly every product these days. Taken individually, they may not be so bad. But as a whole, they’re impacting our ability to know and appreciate what real food actually tastes like.

And now for 2013, their new Mango Cremes with NutriFusion cookies are “enhanced with nutrients.” They’re adding “natural whole food concentrate” of cranberry, pomegranate, orange, grape, strawberry, and shiitake mushrooms to the cookies – in a minuscule amount – and using that to market them as healthier. That’s nothing more than blatant healthwashing. (On the flip-side, at least that particular flavor doesn’t contain trans fats…).

Starting around 2012, there was a huge uproar about the use of palm oil in the cookies.  Yielding to pressure, they started phasing in sustainable palm oil in 2013, and at least one of the cookie manufacturers now claims to use 100% sustainable palm oil.

How about we apply some pressure to get them to remove all trans fats and fake flavors from their cookies, and to stop pretending their new cookies with added vitamins are any less unhealthy than the rest of their cookies?

The Girl Scouts can – and must – do better for our kids and for everyone who buys those cookies. What do you think? 

(If you’re with me, but are still jonesing for Thin Mints, try my friend Adair’s awesome Chocolate-Covered Mint Leaves instead).

Girl Scout Cookies. Now, With Trans Fats!” © 2011 Mike Licht. Used under Creative Commons License.

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February 8, 2013 8:47 pm

Giving a check to the kiddo earns more money for the organization than they’d have reaped by us buying the cookies or gift wrap or other assorted stuff they sell. It’s a much better way of supporting the organization and making the kids feel that their time is valuable. Remember that writing a check is supporting the organization. Of course the organization will understand. What’s not to understand? Money talks! I guarantee that they prefer it!

Amanda Cowan
February 9, 2013 7:31 pm
Reply to  marge201

Thats what I heard! So yeah, we stopped buying as well…

February 8, 2013 8:16 pm

It’s the same for the equivalent cookies (sold by Guides) and popcorn (sold by Scouts) here in Canada. Stopped buying both years ago, but do feel bad when the kiddos come knocking.

February 17, 2013 1:40 pm
Reply to  Jill

I always offer to make a donation rather than buy the stuff. They seem to be just as happy…

Shef from Shef's Kitchen
February 8, 2013 8:08 pm

now I wish I had donated rather than succumbing to supporting GS. I don’t actually really like their cookies. I used to, before I started baking! My girls love homemade or “real” baked goods more ( I think they can tell a difference already!) But they just can’t shake the Oreo love. Re-creating that just might be a lot of work and just won’t taste as nostalgic I think. I will tweet the Girls Scouts. Thanks!

February 8, 2013 6:29 pm

I agree. My daughter is a girl scout and I make a donation to the troop. I get it that they are teaching them to ‘earn’ something, but it would be hypocritical to ask my friends and family to eat cookies that I would never eat.

I feel by donating, I am teaching my daughter a much greater lesson of sticking to your values, not bowing down to ‘pressure’ and practicing what I preach. I hope the girl scouts understand 🙂

February 8, 2013 6:28 pm
February 8, 2013 5:56 pm

ill admit it i have bought 15 boxes this month. i have two girls that i know who i always buy boxes for and honestly i never looked at the ingredients and i am just starting to learn all the food lingo and eating better. I was a girls out when i was a kid and remember sitting out in sub zero cold in front of the church for hours lol. but i will probably still eat the thin mints… they are my weakness. i didn’t even know you could just donate.

February 8, 2013 5:31 pm

I did buy 4 boxes of cookies from my adorable niece. When I was her age, my sister and I were the premier cookie hustlers, non par. I feel it is karma to buy them. That being said, I told my adorable niece, to donate them to the troops. I know that’s awful, poisoning the troops. I’ll never eat them.

February 8, 2013 5:10 pm

Thank you for this post! I’ve been wondering about that, especially since I’m interested in supporting them, and I used to really enjoy their cookies. I had a suspicion that they weren’t good for us, but now I know for sure!

Rochelle @ WheatlessRochelle.com
February 8, 2013 5:09 pm

No Girl Scout cookies for me, either. They’re not gluten free, even if I did want to eat one. I looked at the Girl Scout website and found this: “Why don’t you offer cookies that are whole-wheat, wheat-free, non-dairy, dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, casein-free, organic, low-carbohydrate, low-calorie, lowfat, non-fat, fat-free, etc.? Girl Scout Cookies are produced only once a year and for a limited time, so our bakers never achieve the volume required to support the specific production of specialty cookies. The demand has not been great enough to make it economically feasible; however, our bakers continue to experiment and have a commitment to ensuring there is always a “healthful” cookie in their line-up. Each of our bakers strives to use the most healthful ingredients available in the production of one of America’s most treasured sweet treats. Check the labels of all the products you eat, including Girl Scout Cookies. You… Read more »

February 10, 2013 7:02 pm

Seriously. And they make it sound like the “bakers” are just three or four moms not whatever giant factory GS teams up with.

February 8, 2013 4:36 pm

No comment about sugar coming (first and) before the flour in the ingredients?